INSPIRATIONAL achievers from Warwickshire were among those celebrated at the fifth Ladies First Professional Development Network Business Awards.
More than 300 people assembled at Coombe Abbey on Thursday (March 23rd) for the glittering awards ceremony, hosted by local musician and BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley.
Winners included Emily Biddle who was awarded Business Woman of the Year for Emily Jayne Hair & Beauty, in Southam. Also honoured were: Sue Ford from ActionCOACH in Warwick (Achieves Through Networking); Amanda Chalmers of Chalmers News PR in Warwick (Excellence In Media); Lisa Devine, Therapy & Fitness Centre, Leamington (Excellence In Health & Wellbeing); and Kate Wilson of Medics to Medics, from Kenilworth (Woman of Courage); Charlotte Pitts, HR Consultants, from Stratford (Service Provider of the Year); Jayne Scandrett and Jane Medd, Justina and Dice, from Wellesbourne and Shipston (Service Provider of the Year – Retail); Hayley Alexander, of Shakespeare Media, from Welford (Excellence In Marketing); Sarah Day, One Day Film Productions, from Henley-in-Arden (Unique Business); Leanne Horne, Air Aesthetics, from Henley-in-Arden (Rising Star) and former Stratford Herald editor Amanda Chalmers, Director of Chalmers News PR in Warwick. (Excellence In Media)
This year also saw the introduction of four new categories celebrating creatives – including Outstanding Woman In Sport, Outstanding Woman In Creative Arts, Woman In Music and The Sandra Godley Music Award.
The winners were selected from hundreds nominations across the UK at an independent judging day last month.
Special guests included The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Kevin Maton; Nurse May Parsons – the nurse who administered the first ever Covid injection in Coventry – and former member of The Drifters, Roy Hemmings.
Director of Ladies First, Tracey McAtamney, said after the event: “What a night of celebration and entertainment honouring inspirational women from across the country. We also welcomed Toyin Adekale, former Boney M Band Member who flew in from the USA to collect her award for Woman in Music International. In all, 30 awards were presented to some amazing ladies, men and rising stars!
“Congratulations to all the finalists and winners who all truly deserve recognition for their incredible achievements. It was wonderful to see so many women supporting and celebrating each other’s successes.”
The awards also raised £2,300 for two West Midlands charities, Coventry Foodbank and Surviving Bereavement, through an auction and raffle.
Business Woman of the Year (Sponsored by Janine Edwards Wealth Management)
Emily Biddle, Emily Jayne Hair & Beauty, Southam
Emily started her own award-winning business seven years ago, working out of a former sorting office before taking her opportunity to take over the whole building when the post office closed.
She said: “To be recognised for the award and surrounded by such inspirational, talented and amazing women was just incredible by itself. Never did I think that I’d ever win. Thank you so much to all the team at Ladies First that make these awards possible.
“And thank you to everyone that has been on this journey with me the last seven years, it has taught me to be both strong and resilience at times and never give up, I wouldn’t change one single step of any of it.”
Excellence In Health & Wellbeing (Sponsored by Air Aesthetics)
Lisa Devine, Therapy & Fitness Centre, Leamington
Lisa said: “What an amazing evening we all had celebrating so many inspirational businesswomen.
“To receive the award for Excellence in Health & Wellbeing was unbelievable. Twenty-two years in my career as a Sports and Holistic Therapist and I have the business of my dreams. I love my job and I love the team I have around me. I could not have done it without their support, drive and hard work.”
Excellence In Media (Sponsored by Alsters Kelley Solicitors)
Amanda Chalmers, Chalmers News PR, Warwick
Amanda, a journalist of 30 years, said: “To be singled out among so many truly inspirational women is a moment of which I’m justly proud and goes a long way towards keeping that pesky imposter syndrome at bay! Truly humbled.”
Achieves Through Networking (Sponsored by Business Women’s Networking Ltd)
Sue Ford, ActionCOACH, Warwick
Sue said: “I am extremely proud to win this award! Ladies First Professional development has been a wonderful platform for meeting new business owners across the region and to be recognised for doing what I love is extra special.”
Woman of Courage (Sponsored by Therapy & Fitness Centre)
Kate Wilson (Medics to Medics), from Kenilworth
Naomi Rees-Issitt (Or Jay Foundation), from Rugby
Deborah Yates, Birmingham
Kate resigned from her role as a paramedic to run Medics to Medics which packs and sends vital medical supplies to Ukraine.
She said: “I have never felt that my work for Ukraine has involved me being particularly brave or courageous; frankly it’s been nothing short of an absolute privilege.
“They are the ones trying to do a job that I am all too familiar with, but under utterly horrendous conditions and often without supplies they need; as a paramedic myself, I cannot even begin to imagine how this would feel. Their bravery, resilience and infinite positivity as a nation is nothing short of inspirational and I feel honoured to work alongside them.
“This award, however, was always going to be dedicated to the women of Ukraine – some of who I am now proud to call my friends. This one is for you girls – I love you all.”
Rising Star Award (Sponsored by Pet Xi Training Ltd)
Leanne Horne, Air Aesthetics, from Henley-in-Arden
“I am so thrilled to have won the award ‘rising star in business’, a real achievement! I have Dr Claire Oliver, Jayne McIntosh and the rest of my team at Air to thank for this, so proud to be part of such a successful clinic and close team!”
Unique Business (Sponsored by Kew Little Pigs)
Sarah Day, One Day Film Productions, Henley-in-Arden
Sarah said: “I am still lost for words after winning this award, my face was utter shock when I heard my name being announced.”
Service Provider of the Year (Sponsored by Chalmers News PR)
Charlotte Pitts, HR Consultants, from Stratford
Charlotte turned her ‘kitchen table’ enterprise into a million pound business in just three years after walking walked away from the corporate world at the age of 35.
She said: “Here at The HR Consultants, the service we provide means absolutely everything to us and it’s a real team effort; we’re consistently focused on ensuring our service is on-point so we can take the HR and people-pain away from our clients, enabling them to succeed through their people. To be recognised in these awards means so much to the whole team, and we’re absolutely thrilled.”
Excellence In Marketing (Sponsored by Alsters Kelley Solicitors)
Hayley Alexander, Shakespeare Media, from Welford
Hayley said: “I’m incredibly proud to win this award. It’s a very special moment for me and it marks an amazing three years at Shakespeare Media. To be recognised in this way, by my peers, is humbling.
“My colleagues at Shakespeare Media are the best in the business. The passion that we all have for what we do is palpable. It’s a privilege to work alongside them.”
Service Provider of the Year – Retail (Sponsored by Chalmers News PR)
Jayne Scandrett and Jane Medd, Justina and Dice, from Wellesbourne and Shipston
Business Entrepreneur (Sponsored by SEO Angel)
Paula Heaton, Belle Peau Beauty and Training School, from Rugby
Excellence In Education (Sponsored by Pet Xi Training Ltd)
Libby Wilson, The Old Rectory Nursery, from Rugby
Empowering Women (Sponsored by Ash Family Law Firm)
Karla Byrne, Domestic Abuse Support Hub, Rugby
Achieves In Business (Employee) (Sponsored by Binswood Audley)
Samantha Leleu, Pertemps Driver Training, from Gloucester
Successful Career From Home (Sponsored by Binswood Audley)
Helen Pritchett, The Soap Sisters, Birmingham
Man of the Year (Sponsored by Ladies First)
Michael Mogan MBE for charity work, from Coventry
Outstanding Woman In Creative Arts (Sponsored by Godley Music)
Pamela Aculey Kosminsky, from Tamworth
Woman In Sport (Sponsored by Godley Music)
Jay Bradford, from Coventry
Woman In Music (Sponsored by Godley Music)
Ruth Kelly, from Coventry
Woman In Music, International (Sponsored by Godley Music)
Toyin Adekale, USA
Toyin said: “Women supporting Women and being intentional about it was the reason why I flew from Seattle to the UK in support.
“I was completely overwhelmed, however, to take this precious trophy home as a winner and make history by being its first recipient.
“A heartfelt thank you to Sandra Godley and the awards judges Back to Back PR & The Fergus Simpson Foundation for their outstanding efforts to elevate women from all walks of life. Thank you for this acknowledgment.”
New Business (Sponsored by Alsters Kelley Solicitors)
Zoe Whittaker, Warrior’s World, Coventry
Business Who Achieves for the Community
Alsters Kelley Solicitors, Across Coventry and Warwickshire
Inspirational Woman (Sponsored by Pertemps)
Karen Jones, The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund, from Balsall Common
Family Business (Sponsored by St Maur)
Helen Benussi, Benussi & Co, Birmingham
Man of the Year – Community (Sponsored by Ladies First)
Billy Sumner & Ryan Evans, Glitzy Bits Boutique, Coleshill
Excellence In STEM (Sponsored by Nomuda)
Gaynor Matthews, myNexus, Knowle
Inspirational Young Achiever (Sponsored by Pet Xi Training Ltd)
Chloe Hawryluk, Solihull
Rising Star Award (Sponsored by Pet Xi Training Ltd)
Hattie and Alice Mogan, Coventry
Achieves for the Community (Sponsored by Nomuda)
Jemma Paterson & Helen Bolus, Nurture Parenting Collective/Happy Mamas Solihull
Inspirational Author Award (Sponsored by Pertemps)
Hazel Carter, author/fundraiser for MND, Solihull
Achieves For Charity (Sponsored by Therapy & Fitness Centre)
Marcia Lewinson, WAITS, Birmingham
Woman of Achievement (Sponsored by Nikki Homes Property Consultants)
Catherine Williamson, JoFish and former President of The Speakers Association, Sutton Coldfield
Lifetime Achievement Award (Sponsored by Ladies First)
Colleen Fletcher MP for Coventry North East
Special Award (Sponsored by Ladies First)
Catherine Cossey, The Piano School, Coventry
Venue Award (Sponsored by Ladies First)
Mckees Brasserie, Haigs Hotel, Balsall Common
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